How many times have you uttered the phrase, ‘If only I had the time’? Well, having more time to get stuff done doesn’t have to be a pipe dream. Here’s how all you busy moms can claw back some time so you have a few extra minutes (or hours) for a bath, a bit of reading – or whatever you feel like!
Cook once, eat twice
This can mean one of two things: cooking a double batch of whatever you’re having for dinner and freezing one for later; or planning roast chicken for dinner on Tuesday and chicken and egg fried rice with the leftovers on Wednesday (bonus points for using previously-cooked then frozen rice for this dish).
Have a schedule
One of the biggest lies we tell ourselves is ‘I don’t need to write that down, I’ll remember it’. Because you have a million things to remember at any given moment, it can be impossible to recall if swimming lessons are on a Tuesday or Thursday. Draw up a laminated weekly calendar and update it every Sunday so you know what’s planned for the week ahead. If the kids are old enough, get them to put in their activities – you’ll need to check them, of course, but it’s a good way to foster responsibility.
Wake up ready
Lay the kids’ clothes out the night before – do yours too! – to avoid frantically rummaging through piles of clothes when you’re already in a rush the next morning. Make sure the kids have their school and sports bags packed and waiting by the front door the night before. While this will save you time, it’s really the stress-saving benefits that puts this on our ‘mom-musts’ list.
Have an admin plan
We love paperwork and filing as much as the next person (read: not at all) so try this smart hack for keeping on top of it without having to do it every day. Place a folder (or an old magazine rack) somewhere convenient like in the kitchen or near the front door and every time you get a piece of paper that needs to be filed, throw it in there. Then put aside an hour a week to file them properly wherever they need to go. This way you’ll never lose an important document, but still only have to do your filing once a week.
Get comfortable with saying ‘no’
Think of all the things you agree to do because you feel obliged, or are just too embarrassed to say ‘no’ to. We’re so used to saying ‘yes’ and then just figuring out a way to make it work, but imagine how much time you’d have if you you declined to do things that weren’t a)necessary, b)urgent or c)your problem.
Streamline your beauty routine
It’s time to master the 5-minute-face. Ditch your foundation and replace it with a tinted moisturiser (that’s another time saver right there because you’re using one product instead of two!) and dab on concealer for areas that need a little more coverage, like under your eyes. A two-in-one lip and cheek tint or stain doubles up as lipstick and blush and the liquid makes it so easy to blend. The final step is a layer or two of mascara and ta-da, you’re good to go!
Have a master shopping list
Plan your meals a week in advance and add the specifics to an existing ‘master shopping list’. Yes, it might take you a while to set this up initially, but having a basic list of everything you buy every week or month (like fruit for lunchboxes, milk, bread, toiletries and cleaning supplies) will save you loads of time and energy. Then all you’ll need to do is add the specifics you need for any meals or activities you’ve planned for the next week or month. You get extra points if you create this master list on an online grocery shopping site so you don’t actually have to go to the shops – and just imagine all the money you’ll save on the ‘extras’ you put in the trolley without thinking.
Wrap up in a dressing gown
One thing nobody has time for in the morning is getting dressed For The Second Time. If your mornings involve feeding little ones – and the inevitable spills and smears – then throw a dressing gown on over your clothes (or instead of your clothes and get changed minutes before you head out the door) to save yourself having to change if there’s an accident.
Give the kids chores
There’s no reason you have to do everything yourself. Divvy up the household chores so everyone has a ‘job’ – kids as young as 3 can put new toilet rolls in the bathrooms, pack up their own toys and bring dirty clothes from the wash basket down to the laundry.
Have an email plan
Make it a habit to check your emails only twice a day – you’re losing precious minutes if you check your inbox every time a new alert pings, and it will usually take you a bit of time to get back into whatever task you were working on beforehand.
So, while limiting the number of times you check your email will be helpful, the real strategy is to deal with emails immediately. Open it, decide whether you need to a)file, b)respond or c)delete. If you leave read emails in your inbox you’ll just have to come back to them later.
Organise your to-do list
It’s all very well to have a to-do list but how often do you just end up staring at it, wondering where to start? Here’s the trick: write the next day’s to-do list before you leave work the afternoon before and – here’s the really important bit – decide on the order in which to tackle things. If you have a tendency to put off the most challenging tasks, starting with the trickiest one will make the rest of your day seem like a breeze.